By Thilo Graf
This installment of the Slumbering Tsar-saga from Frog God Games is 60 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisements and 3 pages of SRD, leaving 51 pages of content for the fourth installment of the finale of saga, so let’s take a closer look, shall we?
This being an adventure review, the following text contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.
Still here? All right, this time, we’re in the literal belly of the dreaded citadel – here the Pcs can solve some minor puzzles (altar activates doors), battle gigantic cathedral beetles, encounter the mysterious oathstone, where thousands have bartered away their souls and potentially scavenge the remains of one of Orcus’ finest disciples. Oh, then there is the horn that both the disciples and PCs may blow. It has a 1%-chance of summoning… ORCUS! Well, an avatar of the demon lord, but still – CR 35. Suffer, you wretches, suffer! Also contains in these halls are the citadel’s scriptorium (including Dark Custodians), tallow-works (including tallow golems) and the mausoleum can also be found here.
Now if Orcus + Mausoleum does not ring a bell, then let me phrase it out for you: Deadly, deadly undead and failed champions of good riding nessian hellhounds ahead…and an undead cyclone that spawns the living dead! Hell yeah! Have I mentioned a dread living disease, a legendary behemoth gorilla vampire (including stunning artwork) and the possibility to encounter the very first Grand Cornu of the Citadel, now turned Demi-lich?
Of course, the citadel also includes a depiction of Orcus’ wand and in this installment, the PCs may finally explore it and find the Belfry, the home-base of the dreaded, practically indestructible Bell, one of the bosses of the dungeon. (More on this one in my Hidden Citadel I-review.)
The second area covered in this installment is the bosom of Orcus, where the dread wizards of the college of Glazerel once studied and played their pranks on one another. It is also here, the PCs will have to battle one of the Lich instructors. It should also be noted that some of the more creative traps can be found in this part of the fortress. Where things really get interesting, though, is in the laboratories, where proto-creatures and abandoned weapon-experiments lurk. It is here taht PCs can e.g. save a legendary unicorn-cleric of old and test their mettle against the legendary protean keeper – if they are not irreversibly transformed by proto-matter, that is (a 3d12-table provides some sample mutations).
In the appendices, we are introduced to the Dark Custodians, Living Diseases, Proto-creatures, 2 artefacts (all with artworks) and maps: We get an overview map (very helpful) and 7 pages of maps for the respective areas. While I’d still hope for key-less versions of the maps, I guess that won’t happen.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. layout adheres to the elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks are neat, especially, the original/new pieces. The pdf is fully bookmarked and comes with extensive map-support. I immensely enjoyed this installment of the Slumbering Star saga, as I do just about every piece of it, but as with the other installments depicting the Hidden Citadel, your ability to scavenge individual parts might be impeded – The Citadel is ONE dungeon with a lot of ties to other levels, meta-quests to succeed in etc. and while I did have no complaints about this installment and enjoyed most of the dungeon immensely, I did somewhat feel like this could be even better – if your PCs battle a certain lich and try to get rid of the smartly defended phylactery, you’ll know what I mean. Nevertheless, I would have preferred more information on the respective areas, what once happened there/still does etc. Mind you, there is a lot of information – I just would have loved more to make the sub-section of the dungeon more distinct. Thus, my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to some very cool ideas that break the undead-slaughterfest with interesting critters.
Slumbering Tsar: The Hidden Citadel, Part 4 – In the Belly of the Beast is available from:
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